During a recent visit to the lovely Jardines neighborhood in Envigado, I revisited one of the more obscure museums in Medellin, Casa Museo Otraparte.
Casa Museo Otraparte is a small house, now converted into a museum, that is dedicated to the life and works of the Colombian existential philosopher and writer Fernando González (1895-1964). He wrote about art, sociology, history, morality, economics, theology, and more, and is considered one of the most original writers of his time in Colombia.
While his ideas were often controversial, they held a great influence in Colombian society, even to this day.
While González may not have the international recognition of other notable Colombian artists and authors, such as Botero or García Márquez, he was an important thought leader on the subject of Latin American identity and Colombian identity.
González was born here in Envigado, but went on to study law at the University of Antioquia which led to his work as a judge in Manizales, and later serving as a consul in Italy.
Eventually though, he returned to Envigado and began the construction of his villa, which he called La Huerta del Alemán — which translates to The Garden of the German — but the beginning of World War II and the Nazis incited him to change the name to Otraparte (Another Place).
Casa Museo Otraparte
The Villa Otraparte, which is the former home of Gonzalez, is the current location of the Casa Museo Otraparte. It is a modest but beautiful house situated in a lovely, spacious garden.
The museum attempts to preserve some elements of the appearance and character of the house as it was during the life of González, mixed with several exhibitions throughout the house provide more information about his life and works (although only in Spanish).
For many foreign visitors, though, the museum itself is probably of limited interest, especially if they can not read Spanish. But the house itself is somewhat unique and is absolutely worth a short visit for anyone passing through the area, and I particularly enjoy the spacious garden surrounding the house — a little refuge in a big, busy city.
Case Museo Otraparte offers a glimpse back in time to a different Envigado, one not filled with towering residential towers. And the surrounding gardens are idyllic, with numerous flowers, winding trails and water features.
The museum is free to visit, which makes it accessible if you just want to do a quick walk through and see what it’s like.
Cafe del Otraparte
Behind the museum, you will also find the Café del Otraparte, which is one of the best cafés in Medellin, and is also worth a visit.
There is ample outdoor seating throughout the garden area, and they serve some excellent food, delicious coffee, and numerous desserts to be enjoyed in a quiet and natural space tucked away within the bustling city life.
Center of Cultural Activities
The museum and coffee shop both act as a center for cultural activity of the city, full of lectures on art and literature, film screenings of international or independent works, live musical performances, and other events that are totally unique to Medellin.
I had the pleasure of taking a free coffee cupping seminar here as well, where we tasted beans from different parts of Antioquia, learned about the history of coffee, and what goes in to making an excellent cup. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, and a great way to practice my Spanish.
If you are looking for something a bit different to do on a nice and quiet afternoon, you can not go wrong with a quick visit to Casa Museo Otraparte along with a stop in the coffee shop.
I’d also recommend a visit around the corner to scope out the Jardines area of Envigado, one of the coolest neighborhoods around, with a ton of incredible dining options. You can make a day out of it.
By metro, the closest station is Ayurá, there is a small parking lot available at the cafe if you are driving, but the easiest way would be to arrive by bus, along any route that goes to Envigado via the Avenida Poblado.
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